Written by Sue Cartwright - Unisey Ltd
Are you still only using traditional marketing methods to promote your business and attract new customers? Do you rely on a website, brochures, advertising, direct mail, email campaigns, local networking and referrals to keep people informed about your business activities, products and services?
If so, are you overwhelmed with a continuous inflow of enquiries, requests for further information and sales meetings? Are your lead pipelines healthy and your order books full? Is the return on your marketing investment increasing or decreasing during these difficult times? Or are you increasingly concerned that the methods which have always worked for you are becoming less viable?
If so, you may already have started to look deeper into the benefits of social media. You may already have started to try and understand what all the fuss is about. You’re hearing so much about this new form of marketing and communication but you’re not yet convinced of its value. Perhaps you think it’s a fad that should not be considered as a serious business proposition? My suggestion would be this is not the case and it is time to start making those enquiries. A good perspective to start from would be: ‘What’s in it for my Customers?’
With this in mind, I have created a list of techniques and benefits which may save you a bit of time. Turns out, I was quite surprised by the length of my list, especially when it is by no means exhaustive. Just imagine, if your competitors are considering investing in social media or are already doing so, this is what their customers are going to be enjoying as a result. Key to remember is that most of your customers are using these social media applications. This means they already have access to many of the following benefits, everything they need is right on their doorstep (or in their inbox) so they are starting to have less and less reason to come looking for you when they think they need something.
1) Regular Updates – Hot off the press industry news and ideas in real time that could save valuable time and money; forthcoming dates for local events that could be of interest; links to relevant articles, blog posts, case studies and success stories; book, product and service reviews by consumers (think Amazon); reminders about things that need to be done. Social Media Channels: LinkedIn, Plaxo and Ecademy Status Updates and Email Alerts, Facebook Messages, Twitter Notices and Direct Messages (Tweets).
2) Relevant Information – Industry articles; concise and value packed blog posts; free ‘how to’ guides and research information; best of the best and favourite lists; product and service reviews and client testimonials; guided tours of methodologies and programmes for improvement. Social Media Channels: Blogs, Biznic, Digg (articles rated by community members), embedded links in branded automated Newsletters, above mentioned Status Updates, Messages and Tweets.
3) Event Promotions – Local networking meetings not generally widely advertised; important seminars and conferences relevant to individual needs; learning opportunities delivered by experts, gurus and specialists; national events that may not be known about by local people. Social Media Channels: LinkedIn event promotions, Eventrbrite, Amiando and Constant Contact campaigns, above mentioned Status Updates, Messages and Tweets.
4) Monthly Newsletters – Fully branded, appropriately worded and timely newsletters bespoke to client categories by industry, area or interest; embedded click throughs to ‘all of the above and below’ that can be tracked and monitored with a few clicks; easy and automatic one-click subscribe and unsubscribe features; inclusion of embedded photographs, images and graphics. Social Media Channels: Mailchimp, Constant Contact, MailerMailer and iContact.
5) Photographs, Videos and Powerpoint Slides – Powerful visuals with quick and easy to understand presentations on business offerings, products and services; snaps of happy clients and fun events to clearly demonstrate success, enjoyment and changed lives; providers talking directly to their clients from websites and blogs and inviting them to have a look around before they buy or even move from their office chair. Social Media Channels: YouTube, Slideshare (links to LinkedIn), Twitpic (links to Twitter), Flickr, iPhone Applications, Podcasts, embedded images and videos in Blog Posts and Newsletters.
6) Social Bookmarking – Access to lists of favourite, relevant, useful and interesting web pages gathered with clients’ needs in mind; one stop shop for industry information, research and news; rated site visits so you know how popular they are with explanations and reviews provided by bookmarking site owners. Social Media Channels: Delicious, Technorati, Google Reader, StumbleUpon, Digg.
7) Polls and Surveys – Continuous market research with questions asked and answers given in real time; reports and analysis delivered at lightning speed compared to traditional surveys that are out of date before they are completed; automatic conversion of responses to charts and graphs with comments included. Social Media Channels: LinkedIn Polls, Twitter Poll Daddy, Twiigs.
8) Personal Introductions – Social media users are the new party planners, they go and find people to join their community, invite them in, delight them with a rich source of free material and offerings. They introduce members to each other, they make referrals and connections happen. People join thriving social media networks and have instant access to trusted and influential contacts, each with their own highly detailed and transparent profiles. They have instant access to members’ versions of all of the above. Social Media Channels: LinkedIn (3 Millions UK users), Twitter (5.5 million UK users), Facebook (19 million UK users) [Source: Dec 2009]
I reiterate that if you are still marketing AT your contacts and clients using traditional methods, and you are expecting them to come and find you, it may be time to have a re-think. Social media marketing is all about creating a plentiful environment full of pre-delivery offerings, relationship building opportunities, information and support before any money changes hands. Social media is about reaching out to people you want to do business with, inviting them into your world and making it such a fabulous experience they want to keep coming back for more.
This is how social media professionals grow their networks to gain new business. They start conversations WITH their contacts and clients, listen to what they have to say and then act quickly to respond to the ever changing needs of their niche community. This is how they establish their share of voice and competitive edge. What we all need to be aware of, especially if there are social media experts operating in our local area, is that their next influx of visitors could well include our prized best customers.
If you would like an informal chat about how combined local networking and social media marketing can transform your business, call Sue Cartwright on 077 388 11051. To find out more about Sue and Unisey Ltd, click here.
Member since: 10th July 2012
My name is Alex Murray. I am passionate about what goes on in and around Walsall. I hope you find my blog to be interesting and thought provoking. Please feel free to give me your feedback.